Trends in Library Reporting Data

Results of the data reported to the state by NWLS libraries this year show consistent trends that follow what we have seen for a few years. Overall, from 2012 to 2013, circulation saw a slight drop and resource sharing has fallen slightly as well. Operating revenues and materials expenditures (directly related to the items added to library collections) decreased. Programs offered remained close to the same as the previous year; however attendance at those programs dropped slightly. The number of new registered borrowers fell but some purging of outdated records could account for this drop. Some libraries reported an increase in hours and staffing. The demand for electronic resources has been rising, especially for electronic books, with the exception of WorldCat databases which reported a modest decrease in searches tracked, and a slight decrease in sessions.

The information below provides a quick comparison of system-wide data from 2012 to 2013.

• Hours open fell 1%
• Registered borrowers fell 4%
• Circulation fell 5%
• Interlibrary loans fell 1%
• Interlibrary borrows fell 4%
• Public programs held rose 3%
• Public program attendance fell 1/2%
• Public Internet workstations rose 4%
• Internet use fell 24% (this drop may be due to seven libraries reporting no data)
• Electronic media usage nearly doubled from the previous year
• Electronic media users remained steady
• Total library funding fell 1%
• Materials expenditures fell 2%
• Total items added fell 14%

Librarians Love the Communities They Serve

Librarians love the communities they serve and want to serve them to the best of their abilities. At the core of public library service is the belief in free access to information-that no one should be denied information because he or she cannot afford the cost of a book, a periodical, a Web site or access to information in any of its various formats. Libraries are great democratic institutions that serve people of every age, income level, location, ethnicity or physical ability, and provide the full range of information resources needed to live, learn, govern, and work. Because libraries bring free access to all, they also bring opportunity to all.

Library Bandwidth Upgrade

Through a restructuring of the TEACH discount program that provides broadband connections to schools and libraries, public libraries and systems will receive a much-needed boost in bandwidth this year, including fiber optic installation to most locations.

Planning for the library fiber upgrade has been underway since mid-2013 and is part of enhancing the state’s BadgerNet broadband network. Nearly all public libraries will receive an increase in capacity, often from three to five times as fast, as part of the program upgrade. DPI and Public Library Development staff worked with the Department of Administration’s TEACH staff to restructure the current program within the existing contract terms to boost capacity without increasing the monthly charge to libraries. E-Rate program discounts will substantially help fund the upgrades.

As part of the upgrade project, fiber connections will be run to nearly 350 library locations, preparing those sites for higher capacity under future BadgerNet contracts. The fiber installation will begin this April and should be completed for approximately 350 libraries by November. Preliminary site visits and installation will be coordinated through Wisconsin’s 17 regional public library systems.

Telecommunication carriers provide the BadgerNet connections. The network is under the general management of the Department of Administration (DOA). Approximately 75 percent of the state’s school districts and 95 percent of its libraries have a connection to BadgerNet. As a result of the fiber project, libraries will get a 10Mbps BadgerNet connection for $100 per month and up to 100Mbps for $250 per month. Currently, only 8.5 percent of the state’s libraries have Internet connection speeds above 10Mbps. All of the state’s 17 regional library systems also will receive significant broadband increases.

The full text of the DPI press release is available here, including a preliminary list of sites:

Libraries Bring Communities Together

From Racine Public Library Director Jessica McPhail, for the National Journal - At a time when more information is moving online and into digital formats, our patrons highly value free access to books and the range of resources and programs available at the library. As a library director, I see students, parents, and readers turn to the library when they need homework help, children's books, historical information, or research assistance. Demand for library services has increased steadily over the past few years. According to an American Library Association study, public demand for digital training and technology classes increased 36 percent from 2011 to 2012, while the demand for public Internet-connected computers increased 60 percent. New research from the Pew Research Center finds that 95 percent of Americans agree that libraries play an important role in giving everyone a chance to succeed. By offering learning materials, assistance from librarians, a safe and welcoming public space, and a range of programs, libraries contribute to our quality of life.  read full article

Restore Net Neutrality

The President’s pledge to close the great digital divide and upgrade access to the digital age for all Americans has been jeopardized by a recent federal court ruling (Verizon vs. FCC).  On January 14 the Federal Communications Commission's Open Internet policies pertaining to "Net Neutrality" were overturned because ISPs have not been classified as "common carriers.” Under Net Neutrality every site on the internet is equally accessible to the user. At best, the president's goal of equal access could now be delayed for a few years during an appeals process. At worst, low-income and rural areas could become second-class citizens of the digital age:

•    ISPs could charge companies for access to its users.
•    ISPs could charge users for access to certain services.
•    ISPs could technically censor/block the sites its customers visit.
•    Internet companies could create a tiered pricing system for certain types of online traffic, similar to purchasing premium channels from cable providers.  

Barbara Stripling, President of the American Library Association who served as the director of library programs for 1,700 New York City schools, is concerned that public libraries — and the communities they serve — will be the ones to lose; "Americans rely upon public availability of government services, licensed databases, job-training videos, medical and scientific research, and many other essential services."  Stripling warns that the hardest hit would be students and rural residents lacking access to computers or updated technology. According to a 2013 report in The Washington Post, fewer than 20 percent of the nation's educators believe that the Internet connections at their schools meet their teaching needs.


To join a petition to restore Net Neutrality visit the White House website “We the People” created to identify issues with strong support. The Net Neutrality petition urges the President to direct the FCC to classify ISPs as "common carriers" so that the words of the FCC chairman may be fulfilled: “I am committed to maintaining our networks as engines for economic growth, test beds for innovative services and products, and channels for all forms of speech protected by the First Amendment.”

OverDrive Plans Upgrade for Audiobooks

OverDrive, the vendor of digital books for Wisconsin's Digital Library, has announced that it will be moving away from the WMA format and making audiobooks for the library market available solely as MP3s. Reasons for the shift include the popularity of the MP3 format. The WMA format is not compatible with iOS, Mac and Android devices. Sunsetting WMA formats will enable access through the OverDrive app to all audiobooks on all major audiobook playing devices, including iPod, iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets, Windows devices, Macs and more.  


MP3s are the vast majority of the company’s audiobook collection, including titles from Hachette, Penguin Group, Random House (Books on Tape and Listening Library), HarperCollins, AudioGo, Blackstone, Tantor Media, and more. While OverDrive has not announced a firm date for the change, the company will be communicating with customers about transitioning sales and inventory from WMA to MP3. In the event that some titles can't be upgrade, an alternate solution will be offered to make up for the lost titles. For more information visit OverDrive Blogs.

Library Approval Ratings


Public libraries play an important role in our communities. According to a Library Services Survey, some 94 percent of Americans say that having a public library improves a community and that the local library is a “welcoming, friendly place;” incredible approval ratings for any U.S. public institution.

• 95% agree that resources available at public libraries play an important role in giving everyone a chance to succeed;
• 95% say that public libraries are important because they promote literacy and a love of reading;
• 94% say that having a public library improves the quality of life in a community;
• 81% say that public libraries provide many services people would have a hard time finding elsewhere.

Read for Pleasure


Past research has found that reading for pleasure is linked to better overall satisfaction with life, higher incomes, healthier relationships (lower divorce rates), and better mental health. Children who read for pleasure are likely to do significantly better at school than their peers.


New research from the Institute of Education (IOE) examines the effect of reading for pleasure on cognitive development over time. Children who read for pleasure made more progress in maths, vocabulary and spelling between the ages of 10 and 16 than those who rarely read. Reading for pleasure was found to be more important for children's cognitive development between ages 10 and 16 than their parents' level of education.


Results of a recent study commissioned by Environics Research Group to gather data about the pleasure reading habits of Canadians reveal a high population of passionate readers still very engaged with traditional reading platforms. Books are the overwhelmingly preferred medium, with 70% of readers preferring them to magazines, newspapers, and blogs.


During the past several years, studies like Reading at Risk and To Read or Not to Read have addressed a growing sense of concern about the nearly universal decline in American literacy. Only one-third of 13-year-olds were daily readers and fifty-five percent of people who read below the basic level were unemployed. And only three percent of those in prison could read at a proficient level. Adults' rates of literary reading for pleasure have dropped back to 2002 levels, from 50 percent in 2008 to 47 percent in 2012.


These surveys demonstrate reading’s increasingly precarious position among an unprecedented large variety of electronic entertainment and communication options. On average, Americans spend 2.8 hours per day watching television and seven minutes reading per weekend day. The deciding factor in who reads and who doesn't is not socioeconomic status. It's how many books can be found in a family's home.


Need to make more time for reading? Word Cafe suggests eight ways you can fit reading into your busy schedule:  cut down your TV watching time • Use your lunch hour to leave your desk and read while you eat  • Make it a habit of reading before bedtime • Keep your current read handy in at all times • Designate an hour of reading time with the family •  Join, or start, a book club • Make reading your excuse to get out of the house • Create a reading oasis in your home


LearningExpress Database Upgrade


On January 3, 2014 LearningExpress Library will be moved to an upgraded platform requiring users to re-register their accounts. Work done on the current platform will not be available after the January 3 upgrade. Please finish all coursework before January. The new features included in the upgrade to LearningExpress 3.0 offer improved functionality and content:

  • New and improved site design
  • Easier navigation
  • New interactive tutorials
  • Multiple test modes for study and practice
  • Recommendations for additional study

LearningExpress Library is a collection of web-based test preparation tools and skill-building materials for children, teens, and adults. Improve your academic skills, achieve educational goals, and prepare for careers with LearningExpress Library!

Library Friends Groups

United for Libraries has made available a free toolkit for a public library friends groups. "Libraries Need Friends: Starting a Friends Group or Revitalizing the One You Have" includes tips on membership, outreach, fundraising and more.


With the serious decline of government support for libraries in recent years, raising money from private sources has never been more important.  Organizing a Friends group with key volunteers for library events and programs, donor clubs, and fundraising has worked effectively to find and secure vitally needed funds. Recruit enthusiastic patrons who use the library on a regular basis and people in the community representing businesses that can sponsor library projects and programs.